To the question, “Why pray?” I’ve heard the answer, “Because God commanded it.” This is pretty confusing, unsatisfying for me, and dangerous for the faith.
Sure we can there are passages in the Bible that commands us to pray.
- “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 12:12
- “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians 6:18
But too often this kind of answer, “Because God said so…,” that doesn’t look for deeper reasons, leads to destructive discipleship (and it forgets the human side of prayer).
Does Blind Obedience Mean You Have More Faith?
For some people, just relying on obedience, without thinking through the reasons, often feels more faithful.
But that’s not necessarily true.
We can trick ourselves into thinking that that not thinking is more faithful. That it takes more faith to “just obey.”
And if it’s true that not thinking is more faithful, then we start thinking that asking questions is less faithful.
We are tricked to think that “thinking about things means we lack faith.”
This is a dangerous path (or slippery slope).
- God commands it, so I do it.
- God commands it, so I do it, and I don’t wonder, reason, or think about it (blind faith).
- God commands it, so I do it without thinking because that means I have more faith (we think this is good).
- God commands it, so I do it, because asking questions means I have less faith (we think this is bad).
So often I’ve seen destructive discipleship spring from relying on a “Because God said it…” mentality. We think it is more faithful to not think, and we end up vilianizing those who ask questions.
Or worse still, we stifle our own questions until they explode into a full on “faith crisis.”
But the fact is, God has good reasons for the things he commands. And it isn’t a sign of a weak faith to seek them out.
In fact, it actually grows our faith in the goodness of God to understand the good reason for the good things he calls us to.
And then, for those time when we don’t understand what God is calling us, our faith in God’s goodness will be so big that we will gladly follow him. But we follow God not because we believe his commands, but because we believe he is good.
What About God’s Glory?
Some might ask, but doesn’t God get more glory when we obey without knowing why?
God’s glory is a big topic. But I will just say that the purpose of God’s glory—and our purpose for everything we do— is not upward but outward.
And there is the time Moses declared, “Show me your glory.” And God responded with, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you” (Exodus 33:18-20).
So God’s glory and goodness always go together.
We should never separate what God has joined.
What I’m not saying…
I’m not saying that faith isn’t important.
I’m not saying we always understand God, and that his commands always makes sense. Often they don’t.
God has prompted me to do and say things that “took a lot of faith” exactly because I didn’t understand how things were going to work out. There is a saying in the Vineyard that “faith” is spelled R.I.S.K.
So, in our daily lives we should takes risks of faith. Yes! Absolutely!
But when it comes to reflecting on the life of faith—it is OK to ask questions.
And it is OK to ask questions about God’s commands.
God is not just a lawmaker
God wants a relationship, and is welcoming us into a family.
Sure, families have rules (commands). But those are just there to protect and prosper the relationships.
SO, not thinking about faith doesn’t mean you have more faith.
AND, It is OK to be a thoughtful Christian, and a faithful Christian at the same time.
This article originally appeared here.